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New England Patriots Wide Receiver Depth Chart Without Mohamed Sanu

New England Patriots Wide Receiver Depth Chart Without Mohamed Sanu: Which players are most likely to see an uptick in playing time?
Patriots Wide Receiver Depth Chart

The New England Patriots made a somewhat surprising move yesterday, releasing wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Sanu underwent offseason ankle surgery and, according to reports out of camp, failed to recapture his old burst and explosiveness. With Sanu off the team, let’s break down the New England Patriots depth chart and find the most likely players to replace his spot on the roster. Note that Matthew Slater is not included in this breakdown, as he’s purely a special teams talent.

Resetting the New England Patriots Wide Receiver Depth Chart Without Mohamed Sanu

The Unquestioned Starter: Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman remains the most important non-quarterback on the roster. As the only proven commodity among the skill position players, Edelman should easily lead the team in targets. The 34-year-old receiver is coming off one of the best statistical seasons of his career, recording 100 receptions for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns. The receptions and touchdowns were the second-highest of his career, while the yardage was a career-high.

Edelman did all this despite playing the majority of the season with a wide variety of injuries. Throughout the course of the season, Edelman battled through rib, shoulder, and knee injuries and underwent offseason surgery for his ailments. While he may have lost a step from his prime, he’s still the best receiver on this team by a wide margin and will be the lifeblood of the passing attack as long as he’s on the field.

Battle for the WR2: Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski

The most interesting battle on the Patriots wide receiver depth chart is figuring out who starts opposite Edelman. If Sanu was healthy, this wouldn’t be much of a question. However, since he never found his old form, the Patriots have to watch Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, and Gunner Olszewski battle it out.

Damiere Byrd is a career journeyman that has yet to establish himself as a true threat in an offense. He spent three years with Cam Newton in Carolina, recording 12 receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns over that span. He showed some signs of life in Arizona, hauling in 32 receptions for 359 yards and one touchdown from Kyler Murray.

Byrd is probably the favorite to start, as he’s the only guy with the potential to get open downfield. While Byrd is probably better suited for the slot, he can defeat press coverage on a somewhat-consistent basis and has an established rapport with Newton.

2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry is coming off an up-and-down training camp, reportedly with more downs than ups. While Harry has strung together a few nice practices, the consensus is that he didn’t make the offseason leap the team expected. Harry had an atrocious rookie season, but he also suffered a foot injury which could have impaired his development. If he lives up to his first-round pedigree, he’ll eventually find his way into the starting lineup. However, only time will tell if he’s up for that task.

Gunner Olszewski is the only receiver to consistently receive positive press. The former collegiate cornerback hardly saw the field in 2019 but has reportedly taken a massive leap in this training camp. He probably won’t earn a starting spot after just one great camp, but he should see his role increase in Year 2.

Fighting for Depth: Meyers, Ross, Thomas

Jakobi Meyers, Devin Ross, and Jeff Thomas are probably fighting for the same roster spot. Meyers initially made the team as an undrafted free agent and showed some promise during his time on the field. However, his inability to master the playbook ultimately earned him a spot on the bench down the stretch. This year, he’s battled through a shoulder injury and hasn’t managed to make much of an impact when on the field. There is a good chance he catches a case of the Foxboro Flu and spends the year on the injured reserve.

Devin Ross is another player that has mostly received positive reviews out of camp. While not as glowing as Olszewski, the general consensus is that he has put together the best performance of all of the guys on the roster bubble. However, Ross is a pretty limited athlete and doesn’t have the highest ceiling. The Patriots could cut him and try to sneak him back through to the practice squad.

Undrafted free agent Jeff Thomas is probably the most exciting player on this part of the depth chart. While character issues caused him to go undrafted, he has the talent and collegiate tape to make you think he could be a diamond in the rough. However, he reportedly hasn’t done much to stand out in practice. He could earn a spot for his untapped potential, but he probably won’t consistently see the field for a while.

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